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How do law’s narratives construct one of its central objects: the human body? This essay explores legal constructions of the human body: both in its idealized form, and in the negative ontological spaces of injury, disability, death, and dehumanization that surround that ideal.

Bodies are “the very ‘stuff’ of law.” There are few areas of law where the human body does not, somewhere, require definition. For instance, without a concept of the body, there can be no consequent constructions of personhood, nakedness, state intrusion, injury, disability, duty of care, aging, or the moment of death, to name only a few.